Brass Watch Games

Shipyard Development News 16 Oct. 2014

by Jonah on October 17, 2014

It’s officially been ages since I last posted anything here, so I figured it was about time I posted something. I’m going to be honest here: update 0.8.1 is coming along much more slowly than I’d hoped due to a combination of factors. The first is that, with school butting its way back into my life uninvited, I have very little free time. Another is that the shuttle system, as I explained in an email to an inquisitive fan (is that the right term? It feels weird but I can’t think of a better one), is proving to be a real pain in the rear. Unlike items, systems, and weapons, which are essentially just lists of statistics, each shuttle has a unique behavior that warrants its own activation mechanic (e.g. targeting an enemy vs. targeting a planet) and AI behavior once in the world. As of yet, I’m still only laying the ground work so I don’t really have anything interesting to show you in that department. However, I do have a few smaller features to show off:

Dynamic World Loading

Until now, when you loaded up a previously-saved game, the world would read all of the data for every sector into memory, then not touch it again until you closed the game. This is fine right now while the game has very little content, but would only cause problems as it grew in scale. So, for version 0.8.1, I have altered the way world loading works such that only the current sector is kept in memory at any given time. When you warp to a new sector, the old one is saved and the new one is loaded in. This will prevent the game from becoming hogging more RAM than it deserves as it becomes more complex. The new system has, however, made the “Quit without saving” option obsolete, thus it has been removed from the pause menu.

Character Window

In the current version, after you initially create your character, you never see him or her again. Even though character skills and stats are not coming in version 0.8.1, I decided I’d add a character screen in anticipation of when they do. It’s pretty primitive at the moment: just a picture of your character and the one (non-functional) skill they get from the background you chose for them. It is accessible from the navigation screen.

Options Menu

I can’t remember if I mentioned this already, but it’s pretty important so I might as well make sure. The game now has an options menu, available currently only through the main menu. All it has at the moment is a slider to adjust the music volume, but I plan to include options such as resolution and full-screen mode in future updates.

Rebalanced Crew Damage and a New Item

In the current version, the crew damage formula makes energy weapons far too powerful. They’re supposed to do less crew damage than equivalent ballistic or explosive weapons, but because crew damage scales inversely with the target system’s HP, attacking a system at low enough health will, without fail, kill all crew inside of it. Because energy weapons do more HP damage, they are also the fastest way to get a system’s hit points down to zero, swinging the balance even more in their favor to the point where ballistic and explosive weapons (with the exception of the railgun solely due to its massive single-show damage) are almost completely obsolete. Additionally, because the AI allocates crew to the ship’s reactors before all other systems, attacking those even with weapons as weak as the Twin Autocannon will allow you to rapidly drain the crew from the enemy ship. When the ship runs out of crew members, it will be destroyed regardless of its remaining hit points. While this is an intended functionality, victory by this method is supposed to be much more difficult than it is. As such, a few big changes are being made to the system to try to deal these problems:

  • The crew damage formula is being tweaked to place a limit on the number of crew an attack will kill. Crew will still be more vulnerable in systems with less HP, but it won’t allow for the sort of disproportionate massacres that you get in 0.8.0.
  • A “crew survivability” stat has been added, allowing you to reduce the damage that can be done to your crew by various methods. One such method is a new item: Armored Uniforms. This upgrade, when equipped, will reduce the damage your crew takes from enemy weapons.
  • All weapon types are having their crew damage multiplier value drastically reduced. Explosive weapons now have 1.0 (from 2.0), ballistic weapons have 0.25 (from 1.0), and energy weapons have 0.05 (from 0.25). These numbers don’t mean much out of context, but you can at least see how relatively dramatic the changes are.

There’s more to it than that, but a majority of the other changes are boring, behind-the-scenes stuff that doesn’t make for a hugely interesting read. Additionally, I’d like to post this while it’s still technically October the 16th, as it’s getting rather late on my side of the world.

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